Brussels: a political mission to Kinshasa, companies to “rebuild ties” – Economic policy

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Brussels: a political mission to Kinshasa, companies to “rebuild ties” – Economic policy

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A multi-faceted mission led by the Brussels Region will leave Saturday for a week in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The opportunity, at a political level, to deepen the association agreement that was signed in 2016, between the Brussels Region on the one hand and the Congolese capital on the other. But for the dozens of companies from all over Belgium participating in the trip, it is also an opportunity to “find partners” on site.

“Rudi Vervoort and Pascal Smet had met with President Félix Tshisekedi in 2019 (in Belgium). There was also a strong desire on both sides to strengthen relations between the Brussels-Capital region and the city-province of Kinshasa”, explain- us from the office of Rudi Vervoort.

Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, belgaimage
Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo © belgaimage

It was also planned to organize an official mission to Brussels the following year, in 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the agenda. The same pandemic had repeatedly postponed the official visit of the royal couple, invited by the Congolese president Félix Tshisekedi, but this, finally scheduled for this same month of March (from 6 to 10), has not yet taken place: the sovereigns have announced that a a new postponement had been agreed, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The mission that begins this Saturday, different and centered on Brussels (at least at the political, cultural and cooperation level), it nevertheless offers a rich program. It “highlights various issues including digital, circular economy, women’s entrepreneurship, health and culture”, Rudi Vervoort’s cabinet announced on Friday. The Minister-President, who leads the mission, was to be accompanied by the Brussels Secretary of State Pascal Smet, who was responsible, among other things, for European and International Relations and Foreign Trade. The latter, however, tested positive for the coronavirus and was therefore forced to give up the trip. While a meeting with Congolese Prime Minister Sama Lukonde Kyenge is scheduled, a possible meeting with President Tshisekedi, himself recently in Belgium for health reasons, has not been confirmed.

Also traveling was a political representative of the Municipality of Brussels, Councilor Lydia Mutyebele Ngoi, various associations (Brulocalis, Brussels 2030, etc.) and actors from the academic and cultural sector.

Thus, the Kanal Museum – Center Pompidou will move to launch a specific artistic project in Kinshasa, which wants to “become part of the current debate on decolonization”. The project will then continue in Brussels, physically connecting the two centers of Belgian-Congolese relations.

Of 100 people, representing dozens of companies (77), constitute the economic delegation accompanying this mission. These are companies from the three regions of the country, led by Awex (Walloon Agency for Export and Foreign Investment), the Brussels Business Support Agency hub.brussels and Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) for the north of the country. There is a good share of construction and engineering players, including well-known names, but also from business services (lawyers, consultants, brokers, etc.) and some less expected players, for example from the cosmetics sector.

“Many already have experience with African countries”, we note on the sidelines of the organization. And the DRC “is one of the most important markets in the sub-Saharan area for Brussels”. The goal here is to “rebuild the links”, which are considered “dilated”.

According to Awex, the tri-regional trade mission will focus on six key areas: health, environment, energy and water, infrastructure and transport, new information and communication technologies and agriculture. “The Democratic Republic of Congo has an exceptional agronomic potential and an area of ​​agricultural land unmatched in Africa, which would allow it, on the basis of intensive agriculture, to feed 2 billion people”, explains the Vallone Agency in the presentation. of the mission on its website. “Instead, just 10% of agricultural land is developed and the yields per hectare are similar to those of the Sahel countries.” There is “a very significant investment opportunity” in the agri-food sector.

The economic and commercial mission coincides, on the spot, with the 3rd edition of the “Belgian Week of Kinshasa” (21-24 March), on the theme of wealth creation through a sustainable and social economy.

The opportunity, at a political level, to deepen the association agreement that was signed in 2016, between the Brussels Region on the one hand and the Congolese capital on the other. But for dozens of companies from all over Belgium who take part in the trip, it is also an opportunity to go and “look for partners” on site. “Rudi Vervoort and Pascal Smet met with president Félix Tshisekedi in 2019 (in Belgium). There was also a strong desire on the part of both sides to strengthen relations between the Brussels Capital Region and the city-province of Kinshasa “, explains the cabinet of Rudi Vervoort. It was also planned to organize an official mission to Brussels the following year, in 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the agenda. The same pandemic had repeatedly postponed the official visit of the royal couple, invited by the Congolese president Félix Tshisekedi, but this, finally scheduled for this same month of March (from 6 to 10), has not yet taken place: the sovereigns have announced that a a new postponement had been agreed, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. The mission that begins this Saturday, different and centered in Brussels (at least at the political, cultural and cooperation level), nevertheless offers a complete program. It “highlights various issues including digital, circular economy, women’s entrepreneurship, health and culture”, Rudi Vervoort’s cabinet announced on Friday. The Minister-President, who leads the mission, was to be accompanied by the Brussels Secretary of State Pascal Smet, who was responsible, among other things, for European and International Relations and Foreign Trade. The latter, however, tested positive for the coronavirus and was therefore forced to give up the trip. While a meeting with Congolese Prime Minister Sama Lukonde Kyenge is scheduled, a possible meeting with President Tshisekedi, himself recently in Belgium for health reasons, has not been confirmed. Also traveling was a political representative of the Municipality of Brussels, Councilor Lydia Mutyebele Ngoi, various associations (Brulocalis, Brussels 2030, etc.) and actors from the academic and cultural sector. Thus, the Kanal Museum – Center Pompidou will move to launch a specific artistic project in Kinshasa, which wants to “become part of the current debate on decolonization”. The project will then continue in Brussels, physically connecting the two centers of Belgian-Congolese relations. About 100 people, representing dozens of companies (77), make up the economic delegation that accompanies this mission. These are companies from the three regions of the country, led by Awex (Walloon agency for export and foreign investment), the Brussels business support agency hub.brussels and Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) for the north. of the country. There is a good share of construction and engineering players, including well-known names, but also from business services (lawyers, consultants, brokers, etc.) and some less expected players, for example from the cosmetics sector. “Many already have experience with African countries”, we note on the sidelines of the organization. And the DRC “is one of the most important markets in the sub-Saharan area for Brussels”. The goal here is to “rebuild the links”, which are considered “dilated”. According to Awex, the tri-regional trade mission will focus on six key sectors: health, environment, energy and water, infrastructure and transport, new information and communication technologies and agriculture. “The Democratic Republic of Congo has an exceptional agronomic potential and an area of ​​agricultural land unmatched in Africa, which would allow it, on the basis of intensive agriculture, to feed 2 billion people”, explains the Vallone Agency in the presentation. of the mission on its website. “Instead, just 10% of agricultural land is developed and the yields per hectare are similar to those of the Sahel countries.” There is “a very significant investment opportunity” in the agri-food sector. The economic and commercial mission coincides, on the spot, with the 3rd edition of the “Belgian Week of Kinshasa” (21-24 March), on the theme of wealth creation through a sustainable and social economy.

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